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Benetton - why the new car wasn't quick

The Benetton team was a little disappointed with initial testing of the new Benetton-Renault B195 last week in Jerez, Spain - but that doesn't mean that the new car is a dud.

Speculation in F1 circles that the car has a fundamental design problem has been such that Michael Schumacher has gone so far as to tell the German press that "the new car is not a flop."

So why the rumors? Some are undoubtedly malicious attempts by other teams to undermine Benetton, but there is no doubt that the first test at Jerez was not a success. The prototype B195 stopped after just half a lap with a flash-fire and bad weather made running intermittent, but the major problem encountered by the team was that the belt from the engine which drives the hydraulic pump for the gearbox mechanism was not up to the job and was breaking after only 12 laps.

Later in the test the addition of cobbled-together cooling ducts meant that the belt did survive a 70-lap run and the team is confident that the problem can be solved with a little time.

More worrying, however, was the lack of straightline speed, the B195 being timed 13 mph slower on the straight than the Jordan-Peugeot, running in full 1995 trim.

The Benetton team returned to England to make modifications and will be at Paul Ricard this week with two of the new cars for Johnny Herbert and Michael Schumacher for three days of testing. The team will be operating out of Renault's private pitlane on the Mistral Straight, at the back of the circuit, which will mean that other teams will not have an easy job keeping track of the times recorded by the Benetton boys.

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